The Social “FrankenSuites” Era Must Draw To A Close
Today, we published The Forrester Wave™: Social Suites, Q3 2021. Since our last evaluation, the vendors in this space have spent two years amassing their platforms via a mix of organic and M&A activity. The market has reached an inflection point: Social suites’ era of collecting modules and features should wind down — and must now yield to a new era of improved platform interoperability. This is true both within the social suites themselves and externally with the broader ecosystem/tech stack to better serve brand customers’ growing and expansive needs. Social media in a silo? No more.
This year, we culled our original list of 15 vendors down to the nine largest vendors by revenue: Facelift, Falcon.io, Hootsuite, Khoros, Meltwater, Reputation, Socialbakers (now Emplifi), Sprinklr, and Sprout Social. This group of vendors has undergone several transformations in the last 24 months: Falcon.io’s parent company Cision bought Brandwatch; Hootsuite acquired Sparkcentral; Khoros brought Topbox and Flow.ai into its family; Meltwater acquired Linkfluence, Klear, and Owler in rapid succession; Reputation bought Nuvi; and Socialbakers joined Astute Solutions and rebranded to Emplifi. These vendors cater to different business sizes, regions, and some to niche customer needs such as multilocation companies or PR/corporate communications professionals. But no matter their end target, all vendors must move the market forward and strive for:
- Presenting more unified analytics across ads (paid), organic (owned), and listening (earned) data in dashboards.
- Using incoming consumer insights from listening and customer service activity to inform all outgoing marketing and advertising activity.
- Offering a fully interoperable platform in which insights and customer data is transferable across the social suite (while abiding by social networks’ terms and conditions).
For brand customers looking to buy a social suite, the promise of a unified social suite is becoming more of a reality, though the execution isn’t fully there yet. Know that you may still need to cobble together solutions to fit all of your social media needs, especially for social advertising and deep social listening. Forrester’s social marketing playbook or an inquiry call can serve as a guide.